Traveler’s diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract that causes increased frequency of bowel movements, watery stools and abdominal cramps.

It is most often caused by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Fortunately, gastrointestinal upset is usually not serious, just unpleasant.

When visiting a place where the climate, social conditions, or sanitary standards and practices are different from the person’s usual residence, there is an increased risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea.

To reduce the risk of its occurrence, when traveling, one should be careful about what one eats and drinks.

If diarrhea does occur, in most cases it resolves on its own.

Although it is not a bad idea when traveling to high risk areas, one should take medication recommended by the GP in case the diarrhea persists.

What are the symptoms?

Gastrointestinal upset usually starts suddenly during the trip or soon after returning home.

In most cases, improvement occurs within 1 to 2 days without treatment and complete resolution within a week.

However, it is possible for a person to develop diarrhea several times while traveling.

The most common signs and symptoms are:

• Sudden occurrence of watery bowel movements with a frequency of 3 or more times a day.
• Very strong urge to defecate;
• Abdominal cramps;
• Nausea;
• Vomiting;
• Fever;

Sometimes those affected experience moderate to severe dehydration, persistent vomiting, high fever.

The appearance of blood in the stool or severe pain in the abdomen or rectum is also possible.

If one or more of these signs and symptoms are present, or if the diarrhea lasts more than a few days, a doctor’s consultation is necessary.

The symptoms of traveller’s diarrhea may last longer if it is caused by organisms other than the most common bacteria.

Extreme care should be taken with children because traveler’s diarrhea can cause severe dehydration in a short period of time.

Qualified medical attention is required if a child is unwell and exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms:

• Vomits persistently;
• His stools are bloody;
• Fever – 39 degrees Celsius or more;
• Dry mouth or crying without tears;
• Appears unusually sleepy or is too apathetic;
• Decreased volume of diuresis, with infants’ diapers being dry most of the time;

What are the causes?

It is possible that tourist diarrhea results from the stress the body is subjected to during the trip or from a change in the diet. But the infectious microorganism is almost always the cause.

In most cases, traveler’s diarrhea develops after ingestion of food or water that is contaminated with organisms from feces.

These are infectious agents such as various bacteria, viruses, and parasites that enter the digestive tract and overcome its defense mechanisms, resulting in signs and symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea.

The cause of most cases is the enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli bacteria. They attach to the lining of the intestine and release a toxin that causes excessive acceleration of the digestive processes, resulting in the symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Treatment of traveler’s diarrhea

When a person gets traveler’s diarrhea, they should avoid caffeinated drinks and any dairy products, as they can worsen symptoms and worsen dehydration.

The use of canned fruit juices, weak teas, broths, decaf soda or sports drinks is recommended to restore lost fluids and minerals.

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